Hollywood Production Collapses In British Columbia


Eastwards shift of major studio production in Canada continues as the westernmost province fails to keep pace with Ontario and Quebec on tax credit savings.

TORONTO – Vancouver is losing ground to Toronto and Montreal in attracting Hollywood film and TV shoots.

The latest activity report from British Columbia Film + Media indicates foreign, mostly Hollywood producers spent $778 million locally in the westernmost province in 2010, the last year surveyed.

That’s well down on the just under $1.1 billion in foreign production activity in 2009 in B.C.

The steep fall follows B.C.’s labor-based tax credit failing to keep pace with a more generous all-spend tax credit in Ontario and Quebec, and the impact of a rising Canadian dollar in comparison to the American greenback.

Fox’s Fringe TV series and the Matt Damon-starring film Elysium are among the Hollywood productions to shoot locally in B.C. in the last year.

And the fall-off in foreign production has been partially offset by local film and TV production, which edged up to $244 million in 2010, from $218 million in 2009, according to the report.

But B.C. still faces a “deeper competitive problem,” given more generous tax credits on offer to Los Angeles producers in Ontario and Quebec, according to British Columbia Film chairman Michael Francis.

“…it is more difficult to develop and finance scripted drama and feature films in B.C. than it is in many other provinces. This is a result of a number of factors including: the absence of equity funding in BC, the more lucrative production incentives available in other jurisdictions and the fact that broadcasters, who commission content, are based in Toronto and are increasingly relying on Ontario produced product,” Francis wrote in the report.

Hollywood North in recent years has been largely centered on British Columbia and Ontario, with tax policy helping to determine where the major studios shoot north of the border.

U.S. foreign location shooting rebounded in Ontario in 2010 after the province followed Quebec and introduced its all-spend 25 percent film tax credit.

The eastwards shift of Hollywood film and TV production in Canada is expected to pick up steam after B.C. voted in a referendum to phase out its harmonized sales tax (HST).

Foreign producers can now recover the former 8% provincial sales tax (PST) as part of the HST, but that will change when B.C. eventually phases out the PST.

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